The Challenge

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How might we design an accessible election experience for everyone? read the brief

Contribution

Accessible from anywhere anytime

As a result of Communication Revolution, mobile phones and internet have been reached everywhere even in rural areas.The whole election system can be restructured with the use of technology so that elections can be accessible from anywhere anytime.

10 years back I participated in election when I became eligible to cast my vote at 18. My first experience of any election related activity was getting myself registered in the voter list. I had to stand in a long queue. My photograph had been taken; as asked by official I submitted my age and permanent address proofs. After few days I received my Voter Id card.

Though I went to cast my vote early in the morning, I had to stand in a long queue and after 1 hour I got chance to cast my vote. I was excited about Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) as that was going to be my first encounter with EVM, I had to only press a button corresponding to the election symbol of the party I want to choose, which was very convenient and the whole process of voting looked systematic because of EVM.

In the last 10 years, I couldn’t cast my vote for 2 times because I was working in Mumbai which was far away from my hometown and my name is registered in the voter list of my hometown. Though there is a system of sending vote through post to hometown’s election booth, due to the lack of awareness and knowledge I couldn’t do it. And there are millions of people in India who are living far away from their hometowns for their career/job/earnings and in spite of the available provisions to send votes they are not casting their votes. The system is not successful because it’s a time consuming and painful process, so most of the people don’t bother only for their contribution as votes. It’s a big loss to election system and election commission which spends lots of money in organizing the elections and it’s a loss to whole nation also as those voters can surely be deciding factor for Nation’s leadership.

As a result of communication revolution, mobile phones and internet have been reached everywhere even in rural areas. The whole election system can be restructured with the use of internet and mobile phones so that elections can be accessible from anywhere anytime. A system can be implemented where all the people who are eligible for voting can register their computer IP addresses/ mobile numbers during registering process so that all those computer devices and mobile phones of that particular area can be connected through a single election server. And number of those election servers will be connected to a main server of the city/district/state. And people, who don’t have computers/internet connections/mobile phones can cast their votes from voting booths, which will also be connected to the same main server.

By doing this we would be able to reduce the long queues for registering process/casting the vote in all most populous countries as most of the people will be able to cast their vote from anywhere anytime. They will also start taking interest in the process wholeheartedly and won’t be losing enthusiasm and excitement for elections.

There are pros and cons of everything, so the whole system will also have its loop holes like illegal casting of votes and system hacking by unsocial elements. The system will need very tight cyber security. Security of the system, cyber crime and right functioning of whole network system will be main areas of concern.


I also came across to the web page of a voting technology solution provider agency. The link is given below which explains the whole idea I talked about.

http://safevote.com/public_elections.htm

Mission #1 Share Your Election Story

Comments

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Yuki Machida

February 11, 2012, 15:18PM
Agreed. Since usability of computers have been addressed in many ways it opens up an opportunity for so many more people form the community to take part in the elections. Some elderly would choose not to go out because of their health, and some may have disabilities that makes it hard to vote.
With improving technologies like eye tracking system and computer controllers specially designed for specific disabilities, I think this is the way forward. There are hurdles that need to be overcome and potential high cost for the transition but should be feasible.

Matt Ridenour

February 07, 2012, 19:17PM
I love this idea. I recently read an article in Fast Company that stated there are 660 million mobile-phone users in Africa. The magnitude of people with mobile phone access provides an INCREDIBLE opportunity to utilize personal technology toward accessible, secure voting.

I also agree that the process would have to be heavily guarded, to make certain the election is fair, and not able to be hacked.

Keep up the good work!

Ashutosh Biltharia

February 08, 2012, 23:11PM
hi Matt!
even I am very positive about this idea. As we are aware of the fact that mobile phones have become a personal device, most of the population carry it along with them everywhere every time. So, using mobile phones for voting through an Online Voting System will be a great idea. Amount of money, time and other resources involved in organizing an election will be reduced drastically. People's participation of in voting, will increase. And it is already being followed in few places.

Lets see what justice we can do with this idea!!:)

Sebastian Philipp

February 04, 2012, 22:31PM
I like the idea to use the existing communication network/ internet to use as a basis for the optimization of the voting process.

If you are disabled, you have aids that help you to act more or less independently.
These aids / device that help e.g. disabled people to take part in the virtual world, in combination with the secure infrastructure of an e-voting platform.
True – there ist he possibility of missusing the internet for manipulations. But you can manipulate elections without using the internet, too.

When you use applications as e.g. internet banking the security level is high and there is not a malfunction on large scale. In Austria and Germany you can send e.g. your tax return or other official documents to the authorities via internet. In the swiss voting via internet is already in existence.

http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internetwahl (sorry I just found it in german) ☺

Ashutosh Biltharia

February 08, 2012, 23:25PM
thanks..sebastian for link, I couldn't read it though as it is in german:):) but I get your point of other large scale services which are securely running through internet. Yes we can use/adopt tight security measures for an Online Voting System also just like internet banking and other online services.

Ashutosh Biltharia

February 02, 2012, 22:18PM
got the "General description of Estonian E-Voting System"..the PDF file is attached here!

Ashutosh Biltharia

January 30, 2012, 18:31PM
During my online search I came across this news "Estonia first to allow online voting nationwide"....here is the link:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9697336/ns/technology_and_science-tech_and_gadgets/t/estonia-first-allow-online-voting-nationwide/#.TybfokKP640

Anne-Laure Fayard

January 30, 2012, 02:11AM
Thanks for sharing Ashutosh about the voting experience (long lines for registering and for voting which might discourage some people) as well as the difficulty to enact this experience while working away from your voting area. I remember not voting for an important presidential election in France while leaving abroad because I did not register in time at the consulate (I needed to do this even for a mailed ballot) and I felt really bad.
I'm looking forward to seeing your ideas developed in the concepting phase.

Ashutosh Biltharia

January 30, 2012, 18:08PM
hii Anne..
nice to hear from you. Long queues are severe problem in India as it has huge population. And a big part of population is working away from voting area. Renovation of whole election system while keeping these problems in mind, will solve many problems to large extent (like problems related to casting a vote, it's privacy and security,managing whole public election, huge money which is being spent over it).

n yea sure:):) waiting for concepting phase too. I am trying to take out time from my studies:) and hope I will come up with more and more good inspiration/ideas. Cheerssss!!

Vincent Cheng

January 30, 2012, 01:52AM
Thanks Ashutosh for sharing your experience, which reveals how migrant & expat workers across the spectrum, are often underrepresented in voting.

Agreed that online/mobile voting is a promising way of addressing this and other accessibility issues.

Ashutosh Biltharia

January 30, 2012, 18:28PM
hii vincent..

yes..I feel E-election/voting can be one of the best ways to solve many issues..and also during my research I came across few places around the world where It is being implemented successfully. Like Estonia became the first country in the world to hold an election allowing voters nationwide to cast ballots over the Internet. I am posting the link as comment. Kindly have a look.

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